NYPD demands Google stop revealing drunken driving checkpoints

Image: Google maps
Google Maps app on a mobile phone. Copyright Jaap Arriens NurPhoto via Getty Images file
By Farnoush Amiri with NBC News Tech and Science News
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"Revealing the location of checkpoints puts those drivers, their passengers and the general public at risk," the police department wrote.


The New York Police Department is demanding Google deactivate a map feature that showed drivers the locations of the city's speed cameras and drunken driving checkpoints.

In the letter, dated Feb. 2, the agency called for the removal of the feature from Waze, the navigation app the tech giant acquired in 2013.

The technology is one of the largest community-based navigation apps and functions like a crowd sourced social network, where users can alert one another of potholes, heavy traffic and police checkpoints.

Ann Prunty, the department's acting deputy commissioner for legal matters, wrote that Google should "take every necessary precaution to ensure" so that none of the NYPD'S checkpoint data is uploaded or posted on any of their map applications, including the popular Google Maps.

Google did not respond to a request for comment.

"Individuals who post the locations of DWI checkpoints may be engaging in criminal conduct since such actions could be intentional attempts to prevent and/or impair the administration of the DWI laws and other relevant criminal and traffic laws," the letter reads.

This isn't the first time the tech company and New York's finest have clashed. In 2015, the Sergeants Benevolent Association, a union of around 13,000 active and retired NYPD sergeants, wrote a letter to then-Google CEO Larry Page, demanding that the company disable a feature that allowed users to track locations of police officers in the city.

The letter came after Brooklyn Police officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos were shot and killed by a gunman. The union said it believed the gunman used the Waze app to locate the officers.

"Revealing the location of checkpoints puts those drivers, their passengers and the general public at risk," Prunty wrote in Saturday's letter.

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